As loyal readers know, our Department of Political Entertainments and Gemutlich Joie de Vivre has been pining by the phone for more than nine months now, eagerly awaiting Meg Whitman’s call in response to our courteous invitation for dinner.
We’ve been patient long enough.
Knowing that Team eMeg recently sent a letter to the California Nurses Association asking for their mailing list so that their candidate could have “a free and unfettered dialogue” with the group’s members, Calbuzz on Monday morning sent a similar request to the campaign’s communications shop, seeking their help so we can let her backers know what a raw deal we’re getting on the whole dinner thing:
“We’d like to get a copy of the Whitman campaign mailing list so we can communicate directly with your supporters,” about our invite, we wrote. “Please let us know when we may expect receipt.”
To our surprise, we hadn’t heard back by 2:30 p.m. and so sent a follow-up note:
“Did you send the mailing list yet?” we said. “Think it might have gone into spam.”
So we finally bestirred ourselves to pick up the phone and call a high-powered, highly-placed campaign source to find out what the hold-up with the list was.
“I’m quite busy today,” the source said unhelpfully, if not volcanically, requesting anonymity on the grounds she didn’t want her name used. Besides, the source added, eMeg’s mailing list is taken entirely from the rolls of registered voters: “It’s all publicly available information.”
So we calculated the cost of mailing a letter complaining about the Whitman campaign’s lack of responsiveness to our dinner invitation to all of California’s registered voters, at 44 cents a pop: $7,469,893.64.
Sheesh. Couch cushion change for the Whitman campaign maybe, but almost a whole month’s worth of advertising revenue for Calbuzz.
Well, at least now we understand how frustrated eMeg must feel at the nurses’ totally unreasonable refusal to turn over their members’ personal information to her (not to mention that whole Queen Meg thing).
Believe it or not, the nurses group actually thinks a candidate for governor should show up at an event to address them in person. Maybe they should just invite her to dinner.
Update: The indefatigable Jack Chang reports over at Capitol Alert that the Whitman camp has now escalated its fight with the nurses union by launching a new web site attacking the organization’s leaders for spending money attacking eMeg.
The mouth that roars: Back when Jerry Brown was governor the first time, before indoor plumbing was installed at the Capitol, it wasn’t unusual to see him wander into one of Sacramento’s finer saloons, where he’d nurse a glass of white wine and hold forth to whatever collection of pols, hacks and press corps types happened to be assembled in good fellowship.
That image of Brown came to mind in recent days, when he got burned by one of his characteristically wide-ranging monologues, after talking to a radio reporter whom he happened to run into one morning shortly before the primary, while both were working out in the Oakland Hills.
Brown’s comparison of the Whitman media campaign to the Big Lie techniques of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels went viral as soon as eMeg’s minions discovered it on the blog of KCBS reporter Doug Sovern, and her army of spinners did an excellent job of keeping the story alive for days after.
Putting aside the widely-known political rule that whoever makes a Nazi reference always, deservedly, gets in trouble , the most intriguing question about the flap is how an old-school candidate like Brown, who’s open, accessible, ironic, candid and seat-of-the-pants will match up in a long, internets age campaign against a closed, secretive, humorless and obsessively controlled and controlling corporate marketing machine like Team eMeg’s.
“There are many lessons to be learned here,” Sovern wrote in his blog, a few days after his 15-minutes had ended.
If you’re running for public office in the 21st century – watch every word you say, and where you say it. Just as the rest of us should assume that any email or text we send could end up being viewed by just about anyone, politicians should always assume that anything they say could be recorded or reported…Jerry Brown isn’t the first to learn this the hard way; he’s just lucky no one happened to whip out an iPhone or Flip camera and video our exchange, so the world could see him say those words, the way I reported them.
Seema Mehta cut to the heart of the conundrum in a good LAT piece examining the contrast between how Brown handled his snafu and the way Whitman disposed of a potentially damaging NYT story reporting on how Herself got angry, then got physical with an aide back in her days as CEO of eBay.
Whitman did no interviews after the reports appeared about the physical altercation. Her spokesman Tucker Bounds dismissed that as “coincidental.”
“Meg has public events planned in the near term, and I’m confident you’ll be speaking with her soon,” he said.
By contrast, Brown has barely stopped talking since his comparison of Whitman’s campaign tactics to those of Joseph Goebbels surfaced on a news blog June 10.
The comments have continued to make headlines in part because of the Whitman campaign’s efforts. Her large staff, which include veterans of presidential campaigns and teams of opposition researchers and communications specialists, has trumpeted Brown’s remarks, blasting out seven e-mails over eight days with the latest developments.
But Brown kept the matter in the spotlight himself simply by answering questions, a response that seemed reasonable but served to regularly give the story new oxygen.
Brown’s own small, Bad News Bears team of media advisers shrugged off the Goebbels matter as a no-big-deal example of Jerry Being Jerry.
They argue that, in the end, Brown’s greatest strength will be his authenticity, which they believe will match up favorably for voters against the zillion dollar artifice of Meg-a-branding.
Maybe. But there’s a difference between being a provocative, iconoclastic public intellectual and acting like crazy Uncle Bob at Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a fine line that Brown would be well served not to cross.
PS: We note that eMeg DID take a question from radio yakker and Whitman sycophant Eric Hogue in which she blithely dismissed the New York Times story about her physically shoving an eBay employee as a “misunderstanding” and a “verbal dispute,” thereby basically calling the New York Times report a lie. Wonder if the Gray Lady is gonna stand by and let eMeg smack her around (kinda like they reported she did to Young Mi Kim back in June of 2007).